The OV-1-B-CONNECT’s fabulous looks and detailed sound are somewhat let down by so-so comfort and heavy-handed tuning.
For most audiophiles, wireless headphones usually compromise sonic fidelity for convenience.
However, with the $269 Meters OV-1-B-CONNECT, Ashdown Engineering promises new ANC wireless headphones that are stylish with their functional VU meters and provide world-class audio reproduction. So do they live up to the marketing? Well, read on, and I’ll let you know what I think!
Disclaimer: This unit was sent to us by Meters Audio in exchange for our review. However, no input was given or promises made regarding the content contained in this evaluation.
Well, right off the bat, I’ll let you know the Steampunk-inspired design of the OV-1-B-CONNECT won’t be for everybody, but to me, it looks pretty cool, and the build quality is solid. You have a nice mix of metal and soft protein leather, which feels very sturdy. They also come in a wide variety of colors.
The cups fold up so you can place them in the included hard case, and they end up being pretty compact once you do. You also get a 4” cable for wired listening and a micro-USB charging cable with the hard case.
There are functional VU meters on the side of each earcup, which are the marquee feature of these headphones.
I have to say that in person, they look fantastic; pictures don’t do them justice. In addition, with the Meters Connect companion app (Android, iOS), you can light them up in many different colors and change the brightness in case you’re in a dark room or similar situation.
The app also has a five-band parametric EQ so you can tailor the sound to your preference, and it’s pretty effective. It’s also easy to use, which is a definite plus. More on that later.
While the EQ and Meter control features are cool, I wish the app had other stuff, like ANC control and BT codec selection. These are things you see on most headphone apps nowadays.
Additionally, while the VU meters look nice, their benefit is questionable since you can’t see them while you have the headphones on. The manual says they can be used as a safety feature to see when your kids listen to music too loud, but this is probably a stretch.
On the left earcup, buttons surrounding the meter control volume, track skip, and play/pause. The latter also allows you to answer phone calls.
I found the placement of the volume/track buttons to be a little awkward, making them hard to press. In addition, every time I pressed the volume key, I had to push so hard that I ended up smashing the earpad hard against my head, which was not ideal.
On the side of each cup, you have switches for ANC and Power/Bluetooth split between them. The former is on the right-side cup, and the latter is on the left side. You also have ports for USB charging and wired listening on the left side.
Wireless connections are handled via Bluetooth 5.0, and there are three BT codecs on tap, including SBC, aptX, and aptX HD for “Hi-Res Wireless” listening.
As a Samsung Galaxy Ultra user, I would’ve like to see LDAC included as a wireless Hi-Res option since it doesn’t support aptX HD. Furthermore, LDAC comes standard on most Android installations, so the lack of support leaves many people out in the cold.
DEPENDING ON THE CODEC AND ANC USAGE, the OV-1-B-CONNECT has about 16 hours of playback time. That’s a little on the low side by today’s standards. You can charge the headphones fully in a little over an hour, and a quick twenty-minute charge will give you 2 hours of playback. Besides that, you can listen on the wire if the battery dies.
My only issue with the OV-1-B-CONNECT regarding charging was the outdated micro-USB connector. I would like to see a speedier USB-C connector at this stage in the game.
As far as comfort is concerned, while the earpads were soft, I found the clamp a little too tight for my liking. On the other hand, they did loosen after wearing them for a while, but I still found myself adjusting the headphones periodically due to hot spots on my ears.
The manual suggests that you can “work” the sprung steel headband to make them more comfortable, but I would proceed with caution lest you bend them too much.
One good thing about the tight clamp is that the OV-1-B-CONNECT provides a good amount of passive noise canceling. The active noise canceling does a decent job of blocking out outside sound as well, handling both environmental noise and voices.
The main issue with the ANC was the prevalence of white noise when it was turned on without music. With music playing, it’s not quite as noticeable, but you can still hear it, especially in between songs.
For my sound tests, I did most of my listening on the Fiio M11 Plus LTD digital audio player using aptX HD, which is the highest quality BT codec. So this is where my impressions come from.
As far as sound goes, I found the OV-1-B-CONNECT to be a mixed bag, especially with the out-of-the-box tuning. These headphones have the popular V-shaped sound signature, which emphasizes the bass and upper mids/treble.
This is often used because it provides a lot of presence and excitement when listening to music. However, this type of sound can be overdone, which becomes fatiguing to the ear over time.
Unfortunately, this is the case with the OV-1-B-CONNECT, as I found the bass to be just a little too boomy on heavy bass tracks, and I also found the upper treble to be a bit too forward overall. This manifested in shoutiness on certain songs, especially with horns and high-pitched vocals.
That said, even with the slightly over boosted bass and forward treble, detail, and separation are pretty good from top to bottom, even in the middle midrange, which is pretty detailed even though it’s recessed.
Depth and separation are the OV-1-B-CONNECT’s strong points, and with a little EQ in the Meters Connect app, I could tailor the sound a little more to my liking.
On the other hand, even with EQ, the midbass and upper mids were still a little too heavy-handed for me, but I could better appreciate the detail and clarity present.
The Wrap Up
The OV-1-B-CONNECT is a novel headphone that many may buy just on the strength of their looks. They have a pretty cool form factor, especially in the darker colorways. In addition, the VU meters are pretty appealing.
Conversely, I wasn’t a fan of their comfort or button layout, so that brought down their rating as far as I was concerned. ANC works well, but it’s a little noisy in its own right.
Soundwise, while they have some good detail and separation, I found the Bass and Treble to be a little overdone. Yet, this can be adjusted via the EQ in the Meters Connect app. So, while I prefer a more balanced headphone, if you’re looking for a Beats by Dre type sound but with a little more resolution, you may like what these headphones bring to the table.
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I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My hunger for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.